Beliefs

beliefs_thumb_medium150_0Michael Shermer wrote that beliefs were biological imperatives; and that we believe because we have to believe in something. We all believe in things. Albert Einsten once said, “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen”. In psychiatry, beliefs are tearted as true properties of the mind and delusions are treated as genuine beliefs.

What we believe in shapes our realities. There is an interesting theory about beliefs – told by a spiritual master in India – that what we collectively believe in appears as a reality to us and influences our lives. In the state of Maharashtra in India, it is believed that if you look at the moon on the Ganesh Chaturthi day you will become unfavourable to the God. Surprisingly, on that day, the pigs remain indoors. Collective beliefs have long created numerous superstitions within our societies. In Western cultures, Friday is considered to be an unlucky day because Jesus was crucified on a Friday. Number 13 is considered so unlucky that many buildings do not have a 13th floor. As reported by Mandy Barrow, in Yorkshire, housewives used to believe that bread would not rise if there was a corpse (dead body) in the vicinity, and to cut off both ends of the loaf would make the Devil fly over the house. Rao Maharaj, in India, narrated that our thoughts give shape and identity to formless entities within our environment. He gave the example of idol worship as a form of thought-based invocation that relies heavily on collective beliefs. According to him, when people conceive an image of a God or a demi-god in an idol, their collective thoughts start “energising” the idol. As we continue to construct our thought based perceptions and realities in our daily lives, we constantly fire neurons infused with our thoughts. These neurons have the “power” to give shape to formless energies around us and create “entities” that otherwise will not exist. This will be a strange concept to many but the influence of thoughts and creation of thought-based realities is now being actively studied by science.

Quantum physics has long states that we create the world we perceive. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle postulates that the conscious act of observation is a key factor in the formation of our reality. Fred Allan Wolf wrote in his book, “Reality is not just the physical world; it’s the relationship of the mind with the physical world that creates the perception of reality. There is no reality without a perception of reality”. Heisenberg himself wrote that atoms were not things but rather only tendencies; and we should not think of things as things but rather possibilities – possibilities of the consciousness. Physicist Amit Goswami wrote, “Instead of thinking of thing as things—we all have a habit of thinking that everything around us is already a thing, existing without my input, without my choice. You have to banish that kind of thinking. Instead, you really have to recognise that even the material world around us; the chairs, the tables, the carpet—camera included—all of these are nothing but possible movements of consciousness”. Often, what we think is an unconscious process. Neurobiologist Jeffrey Johnson has proven in his experiments that what we think as lost or forgotten memories are actually never lost. They are safely stored in the brain cells. Motorlab at University of Pittsburgh study the way neural activity drives behaviour. They have been successful in implanting a robotic arm in Macaque monkeys that they can control through their thoughts. They state, “Over the last 20 years, we have found that there is a very good representation of the arm’s trajectory in the collective firing pattern of frontal cortical activity. This representation is robust, predictive and contains many of the behavioural invariants characteristic of natural arm movement” (http://motorlab.neurobio.pitt.edu/index.php). There have also been experiments where paraplegics have gained the ability to control computer cursors and wheelchairs with their brain waves.

Rao Maharaj stressed that people have similarly created Gods and demi-gods from their perceptions. Accordingly to him, an entity created through our thoughts is both real and unreal. Real because it is created from the same fabric of the universe and unreal because the identify and intent put into it is not its own. There are numerous examples in India, where such practices are widespread, where these entities actually “work” and fulfil people’s wishes, often appearing in people’s dreams. Yet, these entities are very much relative to the observer. As Rao Maharaj put it, if one person has believed and worshipped Krishna’s child form and another Krishna’s Mahabharatha form, they both would see their respective images or apparitions if Krishna was to appear in front them at the same time. He also explained the ghost or spirit phenomenon through the same theory. People often see their departed loved ones in the same image or appearance as they remember them. A strong or constant thought, and if compounded by collective and equally strong beliefs and thoughts of the family members may actually result in “creating” a ghost out of nowhere with the identity and characteristics of the dead person. Likewise, if we stop believing in something, over a period of time, it ceases to exist; which explains the “disappearance” of old and ancient pagans and gods.

If our reality is created by our own perceptions or thoughts, how can one truly know what the actual reality is? Buddha said, “From the first, nothing is”. What he actually meant was that the true nature is quality and identity less; and that the nature of the things is essentially empty. There is a strange but a profound similarity in what quantum physics and Buddha are both saying. How ironic, then, that we so simple proclaim that we “know” things. Do we really and actually know anything at all? Do not think about it, for thoughts are not capable of knowing but only inferring.

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